Through Monet’s Eyes
As promised in my recent Seine River Cruise post, here is a post devoted to Monet and his beautifully preserved estate in Giverny where he lived for 43 years.
Claude Monet (Nov. 14, 1840 – Dec. 5, 1926) was the founder of French Impressionist painting.
He was also the first to paint a scene over and over in order to capture the changing of light and passing of the seasons, saying “I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even.“
Here is a remarkable picture from 1922 of Monet in his beautifully landscaped garden, the same garden I recently strolled through. The grounds are kept up to remain in appearance as they were during his time.
Below is how he painted the above view, saying “It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them.”
His house is just as beautiful inside as out, with big bright rooms and many paintings, including his Japanese engravings.Back to the gardens—so lush and gorgeous. Monet once said: “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.“Plenty of inspiration there for him to paint.
I was also fortunate to see Monet’s famous water lilies filling the walls of the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris. In 1899 Monet began painting the lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature (as shown at the beginning of this post), and later in a series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life. He once said, “These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession.” This final series depicts his pond in a set of mural-sized canvases where abstract renderings of plant and water emerge from broad strokes of color and intricately built-up textures. Shortly after he died, the French government installed this last water-lily series in specially constructed galleries at the Orangerie.
As I traveled, it seemed Monet was everywhere. He painted all the beauty of France including the same cliffs of Entretat that I shared a picture of (the one with the jaunty seagull) in my previous post.
One last quotation from this brilliant man: “When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever… merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you your own naive impression of the scene before you.“